Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Star Wars: Aftermath. A review/rant


Okay, so I am probably about to do the most internet thing I have ever done. I use Reddit, but this might just beat that. Currently dogsitting, I wanted to take them for a long walk, but I often get bored about an hour in. I decided to download some podcasts to listen to but after finding nothing in the "popular" section I just searched "Star Wars". Can I go wrong with that? I thought no, but turns out I had gone wrong. I downloaded a discussion about the first Rogue One trailer, which was acceptable if not amazing, and a second one about the book Aftermath, which I found myself disagreeing with on so many levels. Now, I won't say what the podcast is because I don't want to put my foot in it again by complaining online, but I have decided to write a review of the book and explain why I mostly like it.


  1. Star Wars: Aftermath is the first book of the new canon to occur after the Battle of Endor (apart from the novelization of The Force Awakens). It's job is to create that Star Wars feeling, while using some of the OT characters, PERHAPS some of the "Legends" characters and probably create new ones.

  1. Disney/Lucasarts? are in a situation where they don't want to anger the Star Wars Extended Universe fan(boy)s, while at the same time introduce a new audience to the New Extended Universe, and also create characters that we can all fall in love with (and they can make toys of).

These two points of context need to be remembered when reading this book. They can't tie themselves down to a complex and crazy narrative that often times just revolved around some other superweapon/super evil villain threatens the Solo/Skywalker family and so they need to save the Galaxy. While this fresh start may upset some (no Mara Jade? No Thrawn? No Rogue Squadron? No Wraith Squadron?) it was an important thing to do. I have come to terms with that. 


Periodically in the book there are chapters that are completely unrelated to the actual narrative. This infuriated and "confused" the podcasters. But I am sat here thinking, what the hell else do they expect from an interlude? Do they not know what that is? Each of them was interesting in its own right and each had a purpose. There was a Han and Chewie scene, which judging by the synopsis of Aftermath: Life Debt, was a direct nod to that coming story. There was a scene that hints ad a nod towards the return of Boba Fett, which can simultaneously placate and excite all of the Boba fanboys out there. Three scenes linked, which to me seemed to be obviously creating some back story for characters in other upcoming media, and finally there were some scenes to do with politics and things that were explaining why there is the need for The Resistance in TFA. They did not annoy me. They did not distract from the story. The title "interlude" showed that they are breaks from the regular story. They fit in the book because it is THE FIRST BOOK OF THE POST ENDOR CANON and they need to introduce some more people and hint at new books.

The Story

The story is okay. There is a secret meeting of some of the remaining high level imperial leaders who are discussing the future and what it might look like. Wedge Antilles stumbles on this and is captured, while at the same time Norra Wexley, a former rebel pilot is returning to the same planet (Akiva, a new planet to me) to be with her son. Jas Emari is a bounty hunter who wants to collect a bounty on one of the high level imperials. She used to collect many bounties for the Empire and was present at Endor to see the tide turn. Sinjir Rath Velus is a former imperial loyalty officer (Gestapo/Soviet Political officers) who is also present at Endor and sees the tide change. He and Jas exchange a look while he is changing into a dead rebel's clothes. He is now here on Akiva trying to drink his life away. Anyway, the story ends up being fairly predictable and I found Norra's teenage son to be quite annoying. BUT I understand why he is here. We live in a world of Catniss Everdeen's and Mazerunners, Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. Disney really needed a younger character for all of their younger audience to really get behind. I can live with him. He is the new Ahsoka Tano/Ezra Bridger for the post Endor scene. 

During the story there was some really good action, some suspense, some humour, some great new characters and a whole lot of interesting new things to excite me about the Star Wars universe again. However, the whole book did feel a bit like it was just setting us up for a series of other stories with this motley crew. In fact the book ends with them being organised into a special missions team who would go around the galaxy shutting down imperial organisations. Also, according to Wookieepedia the next book Aftermath: Life Debt has been far better received and feels like Star Wars again according to many reviewers. 

New Canon vs. Old Canon

Some of the issues with the book, for me, were where it contradicts what I "know" from the original EU. This sounds silly, I know, but for me, months after the battle of Endor Wedge Antilles was running Rogue Squadron, liberating Coruscant. It was hard for me to accept that he wasn't doing that anymore. Also, TIE fighters seemed to be very agile in atmospheric flight...which again for me is a big no no as I have been raised to believe that they are terrible at that. It puts me in a strange place because I want to accept this new canon, but will always love the original EU.


I am not trying to say that the book is amazing, because it wasn't. But I didn't hate it like the podcasters seemed to. I enjoyed it overall, cared for some of the characters and enjoyed much of what happened. When taken for what it is, and in the context in which it was written, Star Wars: Aftermath is a fun yarn and gives us some new characters to fall in love with.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Horizon Wars AAR: Clash on Neu Europa part 1.

Hidden in the jungles of Neu Europa lies a research centre. The locals know it exists, but also know that one doesn't go wandering in the jungle there. The colonization efforts on Neu Europa were spearheaded by HySys GMBH, and it lies in a system that is contested by the UCS and the Collective of Systems, which can lead to interesting situations.

A distress signal is emitted. It is picked up by the both the UCS and the Collective. Each government wants to gain a foothold in this system so send forces to investigate.

The Collective sent a rapid mech strike team. Two P3 mechs (CHQ, M3, F5, A5, D4, and M3, F7, A5, D2) 3 P1 mechs (M3, F4, A2, D2) and 2 light infantry. They would be advancing from the North, hoping to secure the research facility before the UCS can arrive.

UCS forces consist of 5 elements of heavy infantry and 3 heavy tanks. The tanks can move faster, but do not want to get too far ahead of the infantry. They will advance up the road from the West, hoping to stop the Collective securing the facility.

After advancing, the beast mech takes the opportunity to fire on an advancing tank. Shots explode around the tank, but nothing hits true. All buttoned up inside, the commander orders his crew to return fire.

Returning fire the gunner manages to score a direct hit, severely damaging the defense capabilities of the mech. Lucky shot, or experienced crew?

Fire rains in on the advancing infantry, who should have probably taken better cover. Learning from their mistake, they scurry off the road and decide to sneak up the right flank, but not before first squad take some casualties.

Commander Rowner advances and opens fire on the flanking Collective mechs doing critical damage to the movement servos of the lead mech.

The Collective are beginning to dig in and fortify their defense of the research facility. The UCS force is slowly advancing, picking away at the defenders.

The flanking mech tries to suppress the advancing infantry, and manages to inflict some casualties, but nothing they can't bounce back from.

In fact, they bounce back straight away, chipping away at the armour of the mech. The mechs need to lay down more fire to disrupt this advance!

Unfortunately for the mechs the UCS armour begin to advance to blast away at them with their pulse cannon. Fire is exchanged but the Collective mechs definitely get the worst of the interaction.

In fact, with one of the mechs blowing apart into a cloud of gases, scrap and body parts the lead mech begins a furious radio exchange to decide whether they should carry on their flanking maneuver.

Before a decision can even be made Commander Rowner advances and earns his crew another kill ring around their cannon. Today is turning out to be a walk in the park for the UCS armour. Command will be pleased.

Squad IV take cover in the jungle foliage as the squad garrisoned in the building open fire. They suffer some casualties, but are still combat effective.

Second squad covers their buddies, in the hope to provide a distraction. Well they manage, and absolutely obliterate the Collective infantry in the building.

The Collective are worried and need to rethink their game plan. The commander sends out orders to fight to the glorious death and delay the UCS long enough to allow Collective reinforcements to arrive.

UCS armour on the right flank exchanges fire with the beast mech.

The last remaining flanking mech prepares for a valiant last stand, planning to take as many of the infidel with him as possible.

Intense firefighting occurs, but he holds fast, bogging down the left flank of the UCS forces.

Seizing the initiative, the beast opens fire on the advancing infantry, almost entirely destroying them. The few survivors hug the ground and hope for a chance to retaliate...or just survive the battle.

Praising God the driver of the last mech dies under a hail of glorious fire. In his final thoughts he hopes to be met in the afterlife by his ancestors, praising his glorious death defending the faith.

With the flanking mech destroyed the armour can advance up and attempt to destroy the beast. Damage is done to the leg servos, but nothing too devastating.

Armour advances up the right to lay the command mech under fire. Damage is done, but not much. These mechs are hard to take down!

Dug in infantry exchange fire. Collective troops taking the worst of the fire and break, fleeing the battlefield.

The last stand of the beast as he is slowly whittled down, giving as good as he gets, but not quite managing to destroy anything.

Surrounded, the commander weighs his options. Today is not the day to meet his ancestors. Maybe he can be allowed to live on a UCS backwater planet, and keep out of the way? His ancestors will understand...he hopes.

The UCS set about securing the research facility and investigating what happened. Why the distress call? Where are the research staff, or even HySys security forces?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Tanks, Mechs and Civilian vehicles - working on the lead mountain.

 Today I finished a bunch of miniatures ready for Horizon Wars/Starport Scum/other rules I may experiment with.

Opposite are four beautiful THK MIV Tank Hunter miniatures. I painted them a blue/purple camouflage because I saw it elsewhere and love it. These are designed to fit in with my blue forces, but the purple will help them fit in with my Solar Empire Marines who are yet to be painted. The turret shape is beautiful, the contours are stunning. I will get more of these.

Neo Soviets. The beast. I went with a simple green with these. Then a green wash, then a dry brush. No effort, but effective still. These will fit in with UCS forces, but could also be used by other green armies.

Vehicles. I need civilian vehicles. I want them to litter my colonies, mines, cities. Need to protect a convoy? Here it is! Need to escape the authorities? Hotwire one of these.

These have been sitting around for ages. I drybrushes and flocked them and now they are ready for the table. Again, blue to fit in with my blue forces.

I just love this shot.

Black and a greeny-yellowy colour. These are meant to fit in with me "Collective" forces. As yet I don't exactly have Collective infantry, but have mecha and vehicles that can be used. These are pretty state of the art combat suits, and how the Collective got their hands on them is anyone's guess. Quansec hasn't even put them for sale to UCS forces yet.

These mecha are also designed to be used by the collective, but can be used by others. They are GZG 15mm drones of some kind. Three in a pack, but one came off the base and is not finished.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Trees. Finally some trees.

One can tell from this flurry of activity that I have had a productive couple of days with the hobby. Today I am not feeling amazing and so my wife and daughter left to enjoy the sun, while I kept myself in close distance to...useful facilities.

I have been into models and wargaming for a long time. I am approaching the four year mark of this blog, with a slow increase in actually playing games. Yet I have never had trees. Never ever. They are either too expensive, too fragile or too messy to make. After years of reading, researching, trying to find the best recipe for making tree terrain, I ended up on Ebay buying some super cheap trees from China. How bad could they be? Right?

Bad. They were smaller than I imagined, and as soon as I pulled one out of the bag they began shedding. They really are awful. BUT: What should I expect for £2.47 or something for 40 odd trees?

I gathered my remaining CDs and some round MDF bases that have been lying around for 2 years (originally intended for WW2 cannon) and may aswell be used, grabbed some Green Stuff and got to work. My original plan for making removable trees failed. I settled with attaching them with the knowledge that these will need to be replaced at some point.

I also flocked my jungle stands and then sprayed the whole shebang with my Army Painter matt spray. Flock and leaves are secure. Vacuum packaging terrain not shiny anymore.

Starport Scum, Tales of Rhoro Tharik part 5.

Having allowed the gang members to go in the Meehua Colony compound Rhoro and team decided to find as much out as they could about who the red armoured gang are. Risking detection, the Quansec team access their database, only to discover exactly who they are. 

"I cannot believe we met The Buzzard and let him go" sulks Lem, thinking about what fate has befallen his family. 
"You can't dwell on that. Do we know where their main base of operations is? Are they a local gang, or do they spread across the systems?" asks Rhoro.
"According to our data, they have set up their main base of operations here on Helveka III, but do have interstellar reach. In all liklihood, they will have set themselves up in either the Capital, or one of the actual mining operations" explains the Quansec team.
"We need to investigate any of the mines that have activity and go in. A mine seems like a good place to hide slaves" notes Flint. 

After searching mining complexes one comes up with strange activity. Red armoured figures are seen. Rhoro and team advance, without support from the Quansec team.

For this game I came up with a random enemy generator. I placed D6 around the board. If a hero comes within 6 inches of one, then 1D6 is rolled. On a 5/6 enemies appear and 1D2 determines whether it is one or two grunts.

 The complex. Rhoro and team are in the bottom right.

Cautiously the team advance. Past the trees to the outskirts of the mining complex. It looks like this place has been abandoned for a while as there are trees growing out through the concrete.

Passing the small landing platforms a couple of sentries reveal themselves. It was Flint's appearance that made them decide to come out. They open fire to little effect. Flint and Rhoro spin around to see where the fire is coming from, unable to pinpoint a source!
 Lem slowly approaches and lays down fire on the sentries, sending one scurrying for cover. That should help the others he thinks to himself.
 Another two sentries appear behind a building and open fire, forcing Flint to duck between the landing pads to stay out of harms way.
 After making sure his suit has no holes in, he pokes his head round the pad and sends a volley of lead towards an unlucky gang member, who crumples with multiple puncture wounds. "I got one!" comms Flint to the others, but they are busy with their own problems.
 Rhoro has been caught in the open! Not wanting his friend to get into trouble Flint rushes out firing. He pins the two newly appeared sentries. They hit the dirt, hoping to avoid more bullets. The objective is in sight, they just need to make it another couple of hundred metres and they can get into the mines themselves to look for prisoners.
Another sentry, who is returning to the central complex sees an opportunity to take down an intruder. She fires true, wounding Rhoro. He falls to the ground, pistol still ready for trouble while his armour triage unit gets to work on his wounds.
Flint charges up to the mine entrance, leaving Lem to cover Rhoro, and hoping to deal the gang a significant morale blow. If they see it is too late, surely...

It is too late for someone. The Buzzard appears, and with his Gallant Rifle, fires off at the wounded Rhoro, who goes silent on the comm. There is no time to worry about him for Flint as he has advanced too far and needs to protect himself! Where has Lem gone?

 Lem has been advancing slowly, sensibly one might say. He dispatches another guard but cannot see Rhoro anywhere. He was just there though Lem thinks to himself.
 Flint skirts around the edge of the complex, firing behind himself as he goes. He manages to kill and pin another guard, but takes fire himself. Ducking behind the complex he finds that there are no more guards to fire at him. Lem has taken the others out, and The Buzzard has disappeared...along with Rhoro.
More guards appear as Lem and Flint approach the entrance to the mine. It is time to find Lem's family...and uncover where Rhoro was taken.